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BBC iPlayer gets launch date

  • By Paul Crichton
  • 29 Jun 07, 04:54 PM

BBC Future Media & Technology Director Ashley Highfield has announced that the iPlayer is set for launch on 27 July and it will be accessible from day one.

As if you didn’t know by now, the iPlayer is the BBC’s seven-day catch-up service. Programmes will be available for up to seven days after broadcast for users to download. There is then a thirty-day window in which to watch the shows.

Highfield also revealed that the BBC has targeted the autumn for a release of a Mac version of the iPlayer. Mac users may be disappointed that they have to wait until then, however this is considerably ahead of previous predictions that development could take up to an extra 24 months.

No such worries, for once, for user groups with accessibility requirements. If you have followed Access 2.0 over the months since it started, you’ll be well aware that making the iPlayer accessible to visually impaired and hearing impaired people, or those with restricted motor functions, has been at the centre of development.

Director General Mark Thompson said: "In our view, the iPlayer is at least as big a redefinition of what TV can be, what radio can be, what broadcasting can be, as colour television was 40 years ago."

Marketing hype? Time will tell. We are collectively watching more TV online than might have seemed imaginable a year or two ago, with 9% of us regularly watching TV on the web. The arrival of the iPlayer makes it easier to watch quality programming than ever before, so that 9% is only likely to increase.

For some user groups it will definitely feel revolutionary. Because the iPlayer works with screen readers, it will be the easiest place for visually impaired people to get audio described content. There are no unfriendly remote controls or silent menus to contend with as there are with the TV. For hearing impaired people, captioned and signed content will be easy to find. No more scouring of the TV schedules for Sign Zone content broadcast in the middle of the night. And that makes the iPlayer big news.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:23 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Chris Jones wrote:

When is the Linux version of iPlayer coming out .. or is the supposedly independent BBC as much a lacky to Gates and Job as it appears?

  • 2.
  • At 11:31 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Darren Hatherley wrote:

"In our view, the iPlayer is at least as big a redefinition of what TV can be, what radio can be, what broadcasting can be, as colour television was 40 years ago."

Mark Thompson

Anyone with a cable box, or those poor characters foolish enough to pay Sky a fortune for the odd premium-rate imported show, has had both an on-demand and a catch-up service for quite some time now. On-demand serivces offer more than the iPlayer because they offer a selection of programming that is always available whenever you want to watch it - much like an online version of a DVD rental store - not just for 7 days after broadcast.

I'm a big supporter of the BBC and despite their decision to exclude me from its use (I'm a linux user) I still believe they will eventually do the right thing with the iPlayer and make it available to all license-fee payers regardless of their choice of equipment and software provider. But one of the main reasons I like the BBC is that they don't have to try to convince us that everything they do is the greatest, newest, shiniest widget that will revolutionise the world, put hairs on your chest, halt global warming and enable us all to live in peace and harmony for the next billion years.

In other words, one of the best things about the BBC is its honesty (that probably sounds enormously ironic right now). The iPlayer is not going to re-define anything - except perhaps the term "platform neutral" - it's just going to be a convenient new way to watch TV we've missed without having to work out how to use the video recorder.

  • 3.
  • At 11:07 PM on 31 Jul 2007,
  • Mike Gravgaard wrote:

When is the Linux version going to be available for public beta and is there currently a time scale for this?

I don't understand why this wasn't thought through properly at the initial design stage.

There seems to be no time scale and to be honest I'm starting to loose faith in the BBC to do this kind of thing properly.


  • 4.
  • At 11:35 PM on 13 Aug 2007,
  • Mick wrote:

It seems that the BBC has used our money to capitulate to the Microsoft monopoly. The fatuous excuse is that it has chosen an operating system (Windows XP) which 90% of the british computer users use - an untrue statement if you calculate the Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, not to mention AppleMac/FreeBSD and Linux users. All of this is supposedly done to be able to provide the DRM Indies material. It is totally unclear why it hasn't developed an Open Source platform independent solution from the start for its own DRM free material and an additional proprietary DRM format for those who want/need to download the Indies. The Open Source solution would have been available for the best part of two years ago, while the proprietary option would be coming onstream now. What a timely coincidence that EMI has just announced it is going down the DRM free route. Pity that BBC management has with very poor forethought chosen to act like a sponsor to Billy Gates, with our license fee unwittingly funding their unwise decision. Can we get our money back please?!

  • 5.
  • At 04:16 PM on 16 Aug 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

I run a dual boot system using Windows 2000 and SUSE Linux. Thanks BBC.

  • 6.
  • At 03:44 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Darius wrote:

It's great that the BBC is implementing this service, but I too am waiting with bated breath for a Linux version of iPlayer. The BBC should remember that although Microsoft is dominant across the market overall, it is much less dominant among the tech-savvy people wanting to use this new service.

  • 7.
  • At 10:27 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • peter harrison wrote:

Any chance of a native FreeBSD version for those of us who prefer freedom in our choice of operating system?

  • 8.
  • At 09:28 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Vivek Ayer wrote:

This is pure BS. I can't comprehend why BBC is handing over dev to Microsoft. I use Linux and I want all the bells and whistles, not some youtube-ish player. Has the Linux and Mac community been reduced to that?

  • 9.
  • At 03:28 PM on 12 Nov 2007,
  • Greg Browne wrote:

I cannot see an answer to the open systems question anywhere on this board or blog. I run mac and linux computers and pay my BBC licence fee. Am I expected to invest in a microsoft computer as well to receive the iPlayer service, because, much as I would like to use the service, this option is just out of the question for me? Come on BBC Open Up. Greg

  • 10.
  • At 02:32 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • david bingham wrote:

how do i recive this?

  • 11.
  • At 11:49 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

I have been reading the message boards and as yet unable to find any timetable of delivery for MAC and Linux based players! When will a timetable for delivery be available?

I pay my license fee and fail to see why I should miss out on this service. I don't want to have to pay for a license fee to micro$oft just to use this service!

  • 12.
  • At 07:27 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • garfilth wrote:

I use Ubuntu linux and would like to use the iPlayer. I tried it on an XP machine, and it worked very well, but I need a linux version as i refuse to use windoze for very obvious reasons. I pay my licence fee and receive less of a service from the BBC than a windoze user. Yet again the "non comercial?" BBC using ONLY comercial products.

make a Linux version, or dont ask us to fund the BBC when we get nothing back for it.

  • 13.
  • At 07:09 PM on 09 Apr 2008,
  • Bernard Hurley wrote:

I think it is absolutely for the BBC to capitulate to Micro$oft in this way. The organization is treating the licence holders with absolute contempt, by trying to force them to use a proprietary operating system. Why should we put up with this? Perhaps they should be re-named the MBC.

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